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The Time I Slept With A Leopard Outside My Tent – Backpacking Across Uttarakhand : We LivED It


By Pratyosh Gogoi 

LivED It: It is an ED original style where we write about our personal experiences on experiencing and reviewing any app/place/website which gives us a feeling of coming back for more.

Most of us have trekked at least once in our lives and the others want to indulge in this adrenaline rushed endeavor as soon as possible.

Come on guys, pack those bags and tie those shoe laces because trekking is one experience we believe everyone should have once in their lives. That’s not just because it’s adventurous but because you learn a lot during the whole experience of a trek.

I hope that once you’re done with this article, you plan at least one trek!


When one says that most travels begin unplanned, they are not wrong.

The actual journey was from Delhi to Bhimtal but I along with a friend decided to take a step further. We needed a raw, enthralling experience. We asked around and a tea-seller suggested we go to a place called Sattal.

The tents we carried gave him an idea of what we were expecting. Never ever (as Arnab would say) shy away from asking directions to locals. They know the area better and will give the best suggestions.

However, keep in mind whom you are asking. Tea sellers, shopkeepers, taxi drivers, YES. Kids, NO.

Bhimtal to Sattal


We started walking from Bhimtal to Sattal.

The sun had just woken up over the hills and we see a spotted owl resting on a tree. We were clicking pictures when someone stopped by and asked us if he could join us in our trek.

Turned out, he was a trekking guide and a big time bird enthusiast and was free that weekend; plus, not being in the woods bored him. Of course, he accompanied us and we were obliged.



Setting up the tents

Neer, the guide asked us to trek beside Hanuman Tal- the most non-picturesque tal (lake) of Sattal. There was a small waterfall nearby and we set our tents over the only flat patch of land we could find.

While walking back from the waterfall in the dying moments of the day, Jnayan (Or as we called him -“Hero”), a fellow trekker was joyously explaining how Indian movies were lacking in comic sense while Hollywood is maintaining the trend.

All set to go!

It was then that I asked him to shut up and walk as fast as he could without running. He followed suit.

It was after we reached the camp that I told him there was a luring, golden figure beside us. Neer wasn’t surprised. “It’s normal,” he said. And then added,“let’s go see it again!”.

No wonder, it wasn’t there anymore.


We grilled some chicken over coal and fire that night- like an invitation to all the animals for dinner. Every 15 minutes, we’d turn off the solar lamp and send the beam of our torch into the dark in search of shining bright eyes.

We heard varied sounds all night long- distress calls by Sambhars, steps of a swamp deer herd nearby and howling owls. One has to be on constant alert in these situations. You never know when you’ll need to enter your tent.


The very next morning brought with it winds and rain and the heaviest snowfall of the year in the valley. We decided to trek to Pangot and thus started the second phase of our journey- a story for another time.

How To Reach

Buses ply from Delhi to Kotdwar and also to Nainital. One can reach Sattal through both routes, while we took the former. One should de-board at Haldwani and take a bus to Bhimtal and then trek till Sattal.


It’s difficult to find anything in Sattal except Curry Chawal and Kheer. But it’s perfect for people who look forward to an affordable away-from-city experience. Also, did I tell you that leopard sightings are very common?

Moreover, Sattal is a bird lover’s paradise and attracts a plethora of birds. Get your best camera along.


A place to visit for adventure and camping. However, talk to the locals once before camping. There are a few places you can’t camp in without a guide or permission.

Value For Money

To be very honest, Sattal is one of the cheapest places to be in. If you take your own tent and can cook to survive, the place is literally free. You can go boating in the largest tal, ‘Ram, Sita, Lakshman’ if you feel like and also do some beginner grade zip lining beside the lake.


It is one of the most affordable places for camping in Uttarakhand. This picturesque place nestled far away from the hustle of the city makes for a perfect weekend getaway without burning a hole in your pocket.

Image Credits: Pratyosh Gogoi

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